User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 112 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 97 out of 112
  2. Negative: 8 out of 112
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  1. Jan 9, 2012
    5
    Maybe if I were a nature-fan, or a bird-fan, or more preferably, a penguin-fan, I would have enjoyed this film. The way things are, I just did not find it all that amazing. Ok. I was just ok. All white all the time. And the little penguins. They're cute. And all. And it's Morgan Freeman. We get it. Ah. Maybe it's Freeman, we've had too much of him narrating lately. Either way, it just didMaybe if I were a nature-fan, or a bird-fan, or more preferably, a penguin-fan, I would have enjoyed this film. The way things are, I just did not find it all that amazing. Ok. I was just ok. All white all the time. And the little penguins. They're cute. And all. And it's Morgan Freeman. We get it. Ah. Maybe it's Freeman, we've had too much of him narrating lately. Either way, it just did not do anything for me. It was alright, but I felt bored by the film since, well, I do not care about the poor penguins. There have been way better documentaries than this - thank god! Expand
  2. Mar 1, 2011
    10
    This really is a great movie for the family. I was really surprised as to how good this movie was. It was a tad preachy but it really was necessary for the story line so it did not get in the way. How the humans were filmed, without animation, was brilliant. It was short and captivating.
  3. DylanL.
    Mar 28, 2006
    0
    this is by far the worst movie i have ever seen it sucked do not bother seeing it the only reason why i saw it was because my teacher showed it in class it sucked! dont bother seeing it.
  4. Leslie
    Aug 2, 2005
    10
    Marylee you fell asleep after 10 minutes? Then how are you qualified to write anything about this wonderful film. Perhaps if you spent less time doing other things you may have enjoyed the best film of the year. Absolutely wonderful.
  5. AmurabiM.
    Jun 3, 2006
    8
    This is a riveting, awesome and tenderful documentary, far, far away from the NatGeo sensation. That´s the triumph of french director Luc Jacquet that offers a look to this cute animals without any perspective. He just put on screen, the battle for life of the Emperors. Which is tne curse, the condemnation of been harassed for weather, predators and the cruel nature to get into this This is a riveting, awesome and tenderful documentary, far, far away from the NatGeo sensation. That´s the triumph of french director Luc Jacquet that offers a look to this cute animals without any perspective. He just put on screen, the battle for life of the Emperors. Which is tne curse, the condemnation of been harassed for weather, predators and the cruel nature to get into this dance? Life. Jacquet doesn´t tries to persuades us from any point of view. He and his penguins are telling a story. A story of love, survival and sacrifice. It´s a drama, yes (even with a touch of sentimentalism), but above all is a story than is set for nature and nobody has ever captured. It´s the feeling of joie-de-vivre taught for tuxedo animals.Those penguins do more for the optimism around this world than any other thing these days. Expand
  6. ChrisJ
    Jul 1, 2005
    10
    This is a fantastic documentary. Do not bother with bringing in the spirtual or human aspect. This is a riveting, beautiful look at a fascinating creature, with gorgeous photography and great narative by Morgan Freeman. I loved this film, i laughed, and teared up, and was just in awe of what the penguins went through.
  7. [Anonymous]
    Jul 29, 2005
    10
    I have always had a special place in my heart for penguins but never had I ever imagined the trials that they face every day of their lives. I now have a better understanding of the species and also a new found respect for them. I loved this film and cannot wait to add it to collection of movies!
  8. TaylorS
    Jul 30, 2005
    10
    The point of the movie wasn't supposed to compare and contrast to other species of penguins or count their feathers. you could look up crap like that in a textbook. the point of the movie was to tell the untold tale of how penguins live in such a harsh place. very well done. worth seeing in a theatre.
  9. TedM.
    Sep 30, 2005
    10
    Not as good as "Story of the Weeping Camel," but pretty close.
  10. AlistairD.
    Jan 28, 2006
    10
    short, but very good. Surprising normal movie with a lot of themes in mainstream movies and isn't just about information and photography.
  11. TitaniaB.
    Jul 9, 2006
    9
    I watched the "Movies That Pop" version on DirectTV, which I'm sure made the movie more upbeat, more interesting, and somewhat less gloomy. Great movie, I highly recommend it!
  12. davez
    Jul 21, 2007
    10
    A movie that demands your attention based on something that most people would simply skip over while browsing cable. Perhaps it is the unbelievable cinematography, the struggle not only of the penguins but of the filmakers themselves to survive or perhaps it is the perfect narrative voice of Freedman that makes this one of the greatest cyclical stories of life from beginning to end in A movie that demands your attention based on something that most people would simply skip over while browsing cable. Perhaps it is the unbelievable cinematography, the struggle not only of the penguins but of the filmakers themselves to survive or perhaps it is the perfect narrative voice of Freedman that makes this one of the greatest cyclical stories of life from beginning to end in less than an hour and a half. You should watch this even if you're not a nature buff. Expand
  13. Spongeee
    Jul 17, 2005
    9
    Penguins are cool. And so is this movie. Go watch it, you'll learn something.
  14. DanaM.
    Jul 2, 2005
    9
    Exceptional photography. Morgan Freeman does a great job narrating the "storyline". A must see for environmentalists and animal lovers in general.
  15. DavidK.
    Jul 20, 2005
    9
    Heartwarming.
  16. Kris
    Jul 5, 2005
    10
    Penguins.Kick.Butt.
  17. MichaelG.
    Sep 9, 2005
    9
    Excellent film for all ages. Loved it!
  18. miker.
    Jan 3, 2006
    5
    I love documentaries and indies but this was the first movie I walked out of in a long time. Really boring.
  19. JoseC.
    Jan 7, 2006
    9
    Wonderful script,photography and superb voice over,10 points for Morgan Freeman.
  20. NigelP.
    Jan 9, 2006
    9
    Excellent ! A truly wonderful and facinating story of Penguin life with a great narration by Morgan Freeman. Superb filming. Also liked the ending touch of showing the film crew, as the credits rolled. Can't speak highly enough of this film !
  21. ThomasD.
    Apr 15, 2006
    10
    Tells about how penguins live. In the snow & the male with egg when female go to find food.
  22. Giselle
    May 6, 2006
    10
    A most magnificent movie about an incredibly special species that one was priveleged to get to know through this documentary. Brilliant. Let's treasure gifts of Nature like these magnificent birds!
  23. KimD.
    Nov 12, 2005
    10
    This is the best documentary I have ever seen. It made me cry - it was beautiful!
  24. toms.
    Dec 19, 2005
    9
    Very moving.
  25. RyanB.
    Dec 29, 2005
    7
    This is one of the most overrated films of the year. Yes the penguins were interesting and the new critter cam made for great shots, but it was really no different that from any other show on Animal Planet of Discovery channel. There was nothing spectular about the film. Just a good, ordinary animal documentary.
  26. MarkB.
    Jul 11, 2005
    8
    Forget such classic parental-sacrifice yarns as Stella Dallas and Mildred Pierce...THIS is the ultimate "those #@$%! kids better appreciate what I went through for them" movie! If you've only seen the trailers or commercials for Luc Jacquet's engrossing, visually stunning nature documentary, you can be forgiven for assuming that it's no more than a cute little Disneyesque Forget such classic parental-sacrifice yarns as Stella Dallas and Mildred Pierce...THIS is the ultimate "those #@$%! kids better appreciate what I went through for them" movie! If you've only seen the trailers or commercials for Luc Jacquet's engrossing, visually stunning nature documentary, you can be forgiven for assuming that it's no more than a cute little Disneyesque puffball whose effect you can approximate by aiming your video camera at the neighbors' kittens...but you still couldn't be more mistaken. Though it's G-rated, you may wish to exercise some thought and caution about whether particularly young and/or sensitive children are able to handle some of the material and images: this is a powerful, often harrowing account of the tortuous immigration taken by Antarctica's Emperor penguins through 80-below climates to mate and produce one single, highly vulnerable baby penguin egg per couple, which then has to make the punishing and even more hazardous trek transporting the chick back to start. I can't bring to recent memory any image more heartbreaking than Jacquet's seemingly endless closeup of an egg that wasn't adequately protected from the cold; we DO eventually get lots of "awwww footage" involving the newly-hatched babies, and it's well-earned for both the parents AND the audience...but the danger isn't over yet. (The sequences involving natural predators may cause you and your kids to rethink your opinions about eagles, geese and seals!) As demonstrated in Million Dollar Baby and The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman's voice is one of the great musical instruments of our time; it still is, but his narration (which he didn't write) occasionally overstates that which doesn't need to be said aloud in the first place--I mean, why tell us that penguin courtship rituals are very much like some of our own instead of leaving it up to us to ascertain the similarities? And when a penguin mama loses her little one, hearing Freeman intone, "The loss is unbearable" on the soundtrack trivializes the tragedy. Still, Jacquet has produced a striking, visually austere but stunning work (nature itself is partially responsible for this; everything is black, white, gray or blue with a little tinge of orange on and around the birds' beaks) that may even top the acclaimed quadriplegic-rugby documentary Murderball for making viewers realize just how fortunate THEY are and how merciful life has been to them. After all, if you realize that YOU'LL never be called on to walk through freezing blizzards while starving yourself for months on end while carrying your young home on your feet, then you just might put that detour on Highway I-17 that made you ten minutes late for work and caused you to spill your Starbucks on your pants in its proper perspective! Expand
  27. LuisJ.
    Jul 1, 2005
    10
    This is a beautiful movie. Morgan Freeman's narrative was excellent.
  28. stephanier.
    Jul 21, 2005
    10
    A wonderful movie.
  29. CodiD.
    Jul 23, 2005
    10
    It was wonderful!
  30. karies.
    Jul 23, 2005
    9
    National Geographic at its finest: photography which tells a story.
  31. keithw.
    Jul 26, 2005
    10
    Very cool-just go see it.
  32. KennethA.
    Jul 28, 2005
    10
    Simply amazing.
  33. HudsonRiver
    Jul 30, 2005
    7
    A visually beautiful with a great score. The voice over was a little sparse; I would like to have learned more about the penguins. The scenes of penguin romance were tastefully done, and not at all gratuitous.
  34. maryleef.
    Aug 1, 2005
    0
    Boring! I fell asleep after 10 minutes!
  35. ShirleyM.
    Aug 12, 2005
    10
    This film was incredible. Not only did it give a vivid view of what these stately birds endure in order to reproduce but the filming of the journey during such inclement weather was amazing. This is a gold star documentary. Accolades to all involved!
  36. TonyB
    Aug 21, 2005
    8
    Who needs computer-generated "magic" when we can have the real thing?
  37. BarryR
    Aug 28, 2005
    7
  38. HughH.
    Aug 4, 2005
    9
    Great movie but not for young children.
  39. MichelleK
    Aug 5, 2005
    8
    The baby penguins are really cute. I had no idea how much trouble they had growing up. This was a really good movie.
  40. OS11
    Sep 17, 2005
    9
    An excellent film for all ages and interests. Never dull, truly entertaining, a few sad moments but even those are important to the film. You will leave the theater saying and thinking, "I never knew that" about Penguins. Catch it while you still can on a large screen, the DVD will be excellent too, but with a Live audience it's a better expereince. Go see it!
  41. Maxx
    Sep 18, 2005
    8
    Me and my girlfriend made out for half of the movie... so i liked it.
  42. DavidA.
    Sep 18, 2005
    9
    Awesome, this movie is very touching and good. I thought I wasn't gonna like it because I was looking for an action movie but this is a great movie and I loved it.
  43. GregS.
    Sep 5, 2005
    9
    An awesome documentary film that is compelling as well as visually stunning.
  44. NatachaP.
    Feb 14, 2006
    10
    it was such a touching movie, the narrative created with the life of these flightless birds is very moving.
  45. Sammy
    Feb 28, 2006
    0
    Possibly the worst movie I have ever seen. It is so boring. I could barely sit through it. This is also the first movie I have ever fallen asleep in. Don't see it.
  46. molotov
    Mar 15, 2006
    5
    This might have been okay as a 48-minute documentary on the Discovery channel, but not as an 80-minute theatrical release. If you're looking for far superior "bird" documentaries, try "Winged Migration" and "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill."
  47. CallumH.
    Apr 22, 2006
    10
    Simply Amazing, I wasn't so much of a fan of Documentaries before I saw this. It just tells you the life of an Emporer Penguin in such a way, it may make you cry.
  48. DavidS.
    Aug 16, 2007
    10
    This was the most beautiful and astounding video ever. Do a comparison with the insane Bush Family crooks and we see why these guys have lasted millions of years. The Bish Guys will be soon gone and depricated for the mass murders they are for all time
  49. tom
    Nov 17, 2005
    5
    Wonderfull film about nature destroyed by narration. Morgan Friedman delivered it well but the writing was full of anthropomorphisms and creationist perspectives.
  50. JimG.
    Dec 2, 2005
    5
    Beautifully captured picture of nature. No more. No less. Technological advances or daring make it visually superior to the old Disney-type wildlife flicks, but the narration is flawed. The cheesy 60's era "Oh those penguins!" has given way to a 00's era "we know what mommy and daddy penguin are feeling". Feel-good films are now moving from talking down to children to talking Beautifully captured picture of nature. No more. No less. Technological advances or daring make it visually superior to the old Disney-type wildlife flicks, but the narration is flawed. The cheesy 60's era "Oh those penguins!" has given way to a 00's era "we know what mommy and daddy penguin are feeling". Feel-good films are now moving from talking down to children to talking down to adults? How about something else? Nothing against Morgan Freeman, but drop the narration and have a competition for an original score (think "Koyannisqatsi"). Expand
  51. francinej.
    Jul 13, 2005
    10
    I felt the outtakes with the camera men should have been included in the actual part of the movie, they were cute and entertaining.
  52. TomD.
    Jul 13, 2005
    10
    Stunning and, as has been already noted, a natural look at a natural phenomenon, not a cute n cuddly rompin baby animals picture. Beautifully shot as well. Should I feel the urge to reproduce one day, I'll be sure to show this film to my own kids. With a disclaimer that their own conception and birth was slightly less difficult and far less photogenic.
  53. ChadS.
    Jul 22, 2005
    8
    "In the harshest place on earth, love finds a way," goes the verbal equivalent of a money-shot intoned by the great Morgan Freeman in the "March of the Penguins" trailer, which to my great disappointment, is missing from the finished product. People went to see "Deep Impact" because of the tidal wave, and I suspect the casual movie fan will be sold on plunking down eleven bucks to see a "In the harshest place on earth, love finds a way," goes the verbal equivalent of a money-shot intoned by the great Morgan Freeman in the "March of the Penguins" trailer, which to my great disappointment, is missing from the finished product. People went to see "Deep Impact" because of the tidal wave, and I suspect the casual movie fan will be sold on plunking down eleven bucks to see a documentary about flightless birds based on that single sentence, which serves the visual, a baby penguin greets the Antarctic sun, exceedingly well. But "March of the Penguins" has plenty enough drama as is. Unwittingly, this documentary makes the case for domesticating these amazing birds. Think back to what those penguins from "Madagascar" say when they stare at their homeland. Expand
  54. RobK.
    Jul 23, 2005
    4
    Boring. 45 minutes would have been long enough. Not enough facts about the penguins; how many calls do they have?How long do they sleep?What is the average life span?What do their colors signify, if anything? How many feathers do they have? How they compare to other penguins.I mean the laundry list is endless. They gave us very little. And Morgon Freeman was putting me to sleep. Terrible. Boring. 45 minutes would have been long enough. Not enough facts about the penguins; how many calls do they have?How long do they sleep?What is the average life span?What do their colors signify, if anything? How many feathers do they have? How they compare to other penguins.I mean the laundry list is endless. They gave us very little. And Morgon Freeman was putting me to sleep. Terrible. Don't waste your money at the theatre. Wait till it comes out on DVD if you are planning on seeing it. Expand
  55. RoyM
    Aug 13, 2005
    9
    The cinematography was gorgeous. They also got some shots that were truly unique. One of the more entertaining films I've seen this year.
  56. BrandonB.
    Aug 18, 2005
    8
    Great documentary. One of the best I have ever seen and how could it not be with Morgan narrorating it. Beautiful from start to finish and nice sounds to make for an easy movie to make one want to learn. Go and see this because in 2 years the schools will all show it to their students gauranteed.
  57. JohnM
    Aug 19, 2005
    9
    I would have given this surprisingly compelling movie a 10, but I found the narration to be a bit over the top. To describe a penguin as being "devastated" by a particular event (granted, it *was* a pretty devastating event) ascribes to penguins emotions that I'm not convinved they have. Otherwise, I was blown away by this incredible depiction of the biological drive to reproduce -- I would have given this surprisingly compelling movie a 10, but I found the narration to be a bit over the top. To describe a penguin as being "devastated" by a particular event (granted, it *was* a pretty devastating event) ascribes to penguins emotions that I'm not convinved they have. Otherwise, I was blown away by this incredible depiction of the biological drive to reproduce -- at any cost. Expand
  58. KatyL
    Aug 21, 2005
    9
    Such a neat story, well told with amazing photography and access to the penguins. Some parts are really funny, others sweet, others sad, many are astounding. Very appropriate for kids.
  59. TonyP.
    Aug 27, 2005
    9
    I agree with John M, and disagree abit with the over the top op-ed in the Times about the movie which went on and on about the power of Mr. Freeman's lines; the 3rd person narrative seemed abit hokey. Interestingly, the movie in France was without a narrator; instead the dialogue was essentially first "person" from the perspective of various penguins, without the humanization and I agree with John M, and disagree abit with the over the top op-ed in the Times about the movie which went on and on about the power of Mr. Freeman's lines; the 3rd person narrative seemed abit hokey. Interestingly, the movie in France was without a narrator; instead the dialogue was essentially first "person" from the perspective of various penguins, without the humanization and "penguins love like we do" text that Freeman had to read. My daughter saw it in Paris and found it more moving and less trite; John M would have found a "10" easier to offer. They also called it the "Marche de l'Empereur",; the changes evidently (according to an interview with the Director) were based on the idea that Americans wouldn't "get" the original dialogue, nor know that these were Emperor penguins. Frankly, dumb but typical choices. Expand
  60. Matt
    Aug 28, 2005
    9
    I was utterly stunned by the amazing combination of cinematic beauty, real tragedy and occasional comedy experience of watching penguins do what they do. Absolutely riveting.
  61. DorthyT.
    Sep 17, 2005
    10
    great, can not understand why it did not rate higher with your viewers.
  62. PatC.
    Mar 22, 2006
    8
    A fine film in both its cinematography and its openness to the life experience of a fellow species on our planet. The empathy and admiration evoked for these animals as we are immersed in their life cycle is thorough and memorable, and the implication that they have mastered a system of social responsibility that flourishes in the harshest of conditions is a reminder that progressive A fine film in both its cinematography and its openness to the life experience of a fellow species on our planet. The empathy and admiration evoked for these animals as we are immersed in their life cycle is thorough and memorable, and the implication that they have mastered a system of social responsibility that flourishes in the harshest of conditions is a reminder that progressive human society loses when it pursues freedom to the point of denying a sense of duty. Minus 2 points on technicalities. Sorry, a top movie has a more intricate plot and insightful character development, just not possible in a film by humans about non-humans. But still quite worthwhile, and at least a 10 as a documentary. Expand
  63. camdenl
    Dec 11, 2005
    10
    This movie gets a 10 just for the crew who went there to film it in -80 degree weather with 100mph winds.
  64. Dec 24, 2011
    8
    Nature is perfection and when you believe everything you see, some emperor penguins come and completely change my perception and feelings.

    It's a splendid story, incorrectly judged with Animal Planet's episode, which presents the cycle of survival of those species in the most inhospitable place in the world. Threatened by hunger, cold and predators (leopard seals and gulls), the
    Nature is perfection and when you believe everything you see, some emperor penguins come and completely change my perception and feelings.

    It's a splendid story, incorrectly judged with Animal Planet's episode, which presents the cycle of survival of those species in the most inhospitable place in the world. Threatened by hunger, cold and predators (leopard seals and gulls), the monogamous penguins must preserve the ancient cycle of the species, as reflected in the birth of new offspring and the search for food.

    It is a piece of art, proving that a story can make a difference (the voice of Morgan Freeman) or curious fiction concepts that mingle easily in the documentary (in case the French dubbing with human voices voicing penguins).
    Expand
  65. Jul 16, 2011
    9
    What a wonderful film! It's hard to believe that they were able to get such good footage of all of the activity - and the story of the hardships these birds go through each year to reproduce is utterly riveting.
  66. Mar 3, 2012
    8
    Actually makes nature's lamest animal seem interesting.
  67. Sep 1, 2012
    8
    This really is an astonishing documentary that captures a breathtaking journey of the lives of a beautiful creature, the emperor penguins. Such a genuinely told story.
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. Luc Jacquet's exquisitely shot eye-of-God study of a year in the lives of these distinctive birds is a nature film built with a feel for the epic and a love of operatic narrative.
  2. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    Jacquet's movie is as visually ravishing as "Winged Migration," and more gripping.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    70
    Sometimes harrowing, sometimes hokey, sometimes heartwarming nature documentary.